Honda engine showed clear gains on opening day

Mark Scott
Mercedes Red Bull Honda

There was more encouraging feedback on the Honda engine after a promising first day of testing for both Red Bull and AlphaTauri.

The Japanese engine manufacturer are leaving the sport at the end of the 2021 season and are intent on leaving their mark on the sport with World Championship glory.

Red Bull set the early standard on Day 1 at the Sakhir circuit with Max Verstappen securing the quickest time and the most laps of anyone else in action on Friday.

However, it is new AlphaTauri recruit, Yuki Tsunoda, who said he could definitely notice gains had been made with the Honda power unit, including when it came to getting a feel for the one-lap pace.

That will be music to the ears of the senior team, Red Bull.

“I think Honda made quite a good step compared to previous engines from previous years, especially the performance side for the qualifying lap,” Tsunoda said after his first afternoon of testing on Friday.

“I feel gains, especially in the top speed so that’s positive.”

However, he did experience a few gremlins as he and the other drivers battled through the afternoon’s rather dramatic-looking sandstorm.

He added: “But also on the other side, there’s problems with the off-throttle shifting and also a bit of issues with consistency.

“But definitely gave us gains for the power so for Honda a really good, positive day.”

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Koji Watanabe, chief officer for brand and communications operations at Honda, reiterated the manufacturer’s wish to win the title this season and once again mentioned the frustration of not being able to end Mercedes’ reign in 2020.

“It was frustrating that we were not able to match the top team,” Watanabe said.

“This is our last year in F1 and our goal is to win the championship. In order to do that, we have to be competitive right from the very first race and we hope to do a high mileage over this test, making progress with both teams.

“While we have great respect for all four of our drivers, we are particularly pleased to welcome Yuki Tsunoda at Scuderia AlphaTauri, who came through the Honda driver development programme.

“He is a rookie, but he proved his talent and speed in last year’s Formula 2 championship.

“We will give him all the support we can to help him achieve his goals in F1.

“Finally we know that Honda has a lot of fans around the world and we hope that in 2021 we will provide them with plenty of excitement on track and some great results to repay them for their support.”

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